Title: Coming Home
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Publication Date: June 25, 2012
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: ARC from Publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): Coming Home is a novel about tremendous victory and unprecedented loss, a story of faith and a forever kind of love, love that will stay with you long after the last page. This stand-alone novel will serve as either a grand introduction or a beautiful conclusion in the saga of the Baxter Family. The Baxters make plans to come together for a summer lakeside reunion, a celebration like they haven’t had in years. But before the big day, the unthinkable happens. As the Baxter Family rallies together, memories come to light in the grief-stricken hours of waiting and praying, memories that bring healing and hope during a time when otherwise darkness might have the final word. In a season that changes all of them, the brilliance of family love overshadows even the valley of heartache as the Baxters draw closer to God and each other. Along the way, secrets are revealed and the truth about the Baxter Family history is finally made known. Ultimately, in this portrait of family love, the Baxters cling to each other and to God’s promise of forever.
This was another heart-wrenching book from Karen Kingsbury! I will try my best not to add any spoilers until the end. You're welcome. :)
This book was not at all what I expected it to be. As I stated in my review for the Bailey Flanigan series, I've been following the Baxter family since the beginning of time. If this is your introduction to the Baxters, and you read this as a stand-alone book like the description says, then you'll probably just view it as a drama you could read for a good cry. As for me, like the Bailey Flanigan series, it goes a bit further than that.
Karen Kingsbury has been one of my favorite Christian authors for a very long time and I would recommend most of her books to anyone because they reach the reader straight to the heart. They are so real. I know that Karen is transitioning to a new publisher, and I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps they are requiring her to write more books in less time. Since the Bailey series, it seems like her books have become rushed and far away from what made them real and wonderful. Coming Home is a good read, and I feel like Karen reached some of her roots again. Although, the parts with Bailey and Brandon still made me cringe. I tried to get through them as fast as possible so I didn't have to go through that despair all over again!
So, Coming Home. Although it took up some space in the beginning, I liked the recollection of everyone's pasts and how they got to where they are. That was nice for nostalgia's sake, and it's also nice for new readers who need some of the back-story. It was heart-felt and reconnected the characters with the story and each other. As for the events that took place after that, I understand tragedy happens when we least expect it, and it was another journey Karen took us through the life of the Baxters. I think the worst part about it, is that this wasn't just another book within the series, it was supposed to be the wrap-up for the entire saga. Honestly, I just don't think is was a good way to end it all. It felt unfinished. It felt like there needed to be more, and it felt like it ended way too soon. Perhaps she has yet another Baxter installment up her sleeve, but I just didn't find this to be a good ending to the entirety of the Baxters.
****WARNING - SPOILERS****
In the beginning it seemed like such a big deal to be celebrating John Baxter's birthday with everyone writing letters to him. The direction I expected this book to go was something was going to happen to John Baxter and he would pass away, "going home." I was thinking that actually would have been a great way to wrap up the journey we've taken with the Baxters, because in a way, it all started with John and Elizabeth. However, it was so far away from that and in the end, all those letters and John's birthday didn't seem quite as important as we entered into the story thinking they were. It was kind of disappointing. It also seemed out of place and inconsistent to kill off an entire family (or I guess "sub-family") the way Karen did. Like I said before, it all felt incomplete.
So if you're looking for a tear-jerker and you haven't read any other books by Karen, this is a pretty good book. If I hadn't read them all I would probably give it 4.5 stars. But because I have, I have to give it 3.5. I would advise that you start from the "Redemption" series, because those are all top-notch and really shoot straight to the heart.